Chocolate Crazy Cake

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Chocolate Crazy Cake is one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make. Like my beloved Cinnamon Toast Cake, this is an egg-free cake, but the Crazy Cake also requires no dairy.

This makes it the perfect dessert to make on a whim with little more than a handful of things from the pantry.

Chocolate Crazy Cake

Old Fashioned Crazy Cake

I’m willing to bet that if you could peek inside your grandmother’s recipe box, you might find this recipe. Also called a Wacky Cake, Depression Cake or War Cake, this Chocolate Crazy Cake is a simple chocolate cake that requires no dairy and no eggs.

The Crazy Cake was created during World War I when ingredients were difficult to find and purchase. Dessert was a luxury during those times and this cake helped make it possible to enjoy an occasional sweet treat.

Crazy Cake

The basic recipe for this Chocolate Crazy Cake is simple as can be with just a handful of ingredients. It’s terrific with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top.

To make it a little fancier, I chose to frost the cake with my favorite Fluffy Chocolate Frosting. If you need a dairy-free frosting or a vegan cake, this Rich Chocolate Vegan Frosting or this Vegan Maple Cream Frosting would be perfect for that. 

Old Fashioned Crazy Cake

Tips For Making Crazy Cake

While it might sound silly to follow these directions exactly, trust me here. It’s easy as can be and the clean-up is a breeze. Grease the pan, add the dry ingredients and make wells in the flour for the wet ingredients.

Pour water over the top and stir or whisk well with a fork until the wet and dry ingredients are well incorporated.

I’ve been making this cake for more years than I can remember and I’ve always made it as written. As I was making this cake to photograph and share with you, I wanted to add a note to the recipe that says, feel free to just mix the cake batter in a bowl if that’s your preference.

HOWEVER, I tried that twice and the cake turned out lopsided. How is that even possible? I can’t figure out if that’s a weird fluke or actual food science, but I recommend that you make it as written.

Crazy Cake Recipe

Kitchen Tip: I use this baking pan to make this recipe.

Crazy Cake Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter. In the greased pan, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk lightly with a fork or small whisk to combine.
  2. Make two small wells and 1 large well in the dry ingredients (as pictured) and add the vinegar, vanilla, and oil to the wells. Pour the water over the top and whisk again to combine thoroughly.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely. Sprinkle the cool cake with powdered sugar or top with your favorite frosting.
Crazy Cake

Gluten Free Crazy Cake

I’ve said more than once that “good enough for gluten-free” simply doesn’t cut it here. I test most gluten-free baked goods side by side with their traditional counterparts and the gluten-free variations I tried for the crazy cake recipe were simply not the same.

I will continue to work on this one and will update here if I find a substitute truly on par with the original. Because I’ve had so many requests for a gluten-free crazy cake recipe, I’ve included the best adaptation I’ve come up with so far in the recipe notes.

The gluten-free crazy cake is tasty, but there is something slightly different and it isn’t a perfect match for the original.

For a gluten-free chocolate cake that you’ll still be dreaming about the next day, I highly recommend The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Cake and The Best Gluten Free White Cake.

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Crazy Cake

Chocolate Crazy Cake

4.91 from 33 votes
Chocolate Crazy Cake is one of the easiest cakes you'll ever make. Like my beloved Cinnamon Toast Cake, this is an egg-free cake, but the Crazy Cake also requires no dairy.
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Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour *
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup light flavored olive oil or the alternate oil of your choice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 recipe Fluffy Chocolate Frosting (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter or a dairy-free alternative. In the greased pan, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk lightly with a fork or small whisk to combine. 
  • Make two small wells and 1 large well in the dry ingredients (as pictured) and add the vinegar, vanilla, and oil to the wells. Pour the water over the top and whisk again to combine thoroughly.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely. Sprinkle the cool cake with powdered sugar or top with your favorite frosting. Enjoy!

Notes

* Gluten Free Alternative: 1 1/3 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup tapioca starch, and 1/4 cup potato starch, plus an additional 2 tbsps oil

Nutrition

Calories: 180kcal · Carbohydrates: 30g · Protein: 2g · Fat: 6g · Saturated Fat: 1g · Sodium: 203mg · Potassium: 53mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 16g · Calcium: 5mg · Iron: 1.1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 4/9/18 – recipe notes and photos updated 3/2/22}

How To Make A Crazy Cake

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Shareen McBride says

    Our Grandmother always made Crazy Cake for all of her grandchildren when we would come for visits. All of us were eager to have Grandma’s Crazy Cake (no frosting needed). Today I am the appointed cousin who makes the Crazy Cake for the Cousins get togethers. Not only do I make one to eat for the get together, but also extras for cousins to take home5 stars

  2. Helena Guzman says

    I hope I find this cake SUPER easy and good to make, if so then I might make it for my cousin and his family ,he just got done with cancer and we are going to have an open house for him! I’m excited to try it!

  3. Helena Guzman says

    Just FYI I LOVE your recipes.I’ve always wanted to be a cook or a songwriter and I still can’t believe you are one of them! You’re SO lucky to be able to make recipes! I hope that I’ll be able to do something like that!

  4. Andrea says

    Super easy and delicious. I happened to be out of eggs and thought I would give this a try. I was worried that the cake would stick to the pan after stirring the mixture directly in the pan — it didn’t. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too sweet — it wasn’t! I used dark cocoa and topped it with peanut butter frosting. Definitely a keeper!!5 stars

    • Jenn says

      What did you use to grease the pan? I used a cooking spray and my cake definitely stuck to the bottom. I can’t use butter because then it wouldn’t be dairy free. The recipe worked great other than it not coming out of the pan in one piece ☹️4 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Jenn – Cooking spray is not your friend in this recipe. You need something that will remain on the sides while you mix it in the pan. If butter isn’t an option for you try shortening.